Variety Drops Paywall, Kicks Gray Upstairs, Adds Eller for Editorial Troika

by Anne Thompson
February 26, 2013 1:09 PM
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Jay Penske
USC grad Eller is a respected film industry player who moved from The Hollywood Reporter to Variety (1989 to 1993) --where she was an indefatigable killer reporter willing to scrap with the titans of the town--and then spent two decades at The Los Angeles Times, where she covered the business of Hollywood as a hard-nosed, savvy reporter, columnist and entertainment news editor. The fact that she is willing to return to a trade--albeit in a leadership position--reveals that even the future of the mighty LAT is less sturdy than it once was. Will Penske encourage Eller to unleash her inner Nikki Finke? Let's hope so. (The future course of Penske's relationship with Deadline's Finke is a source of endless speculation.)

I always had my money on tireless Variety deputy editor Littleton to succeed Gray at Variety, a move that is long overdue. I worked with her at THR, when she moved from television editor to editor-in-chief before Bart lured us both to Variety in 2007. Clearly, Littleton played a better game of survivor than I did. I succumbed to layoffs in 2009 which also hit reporter Ben Fritz, who now writes for The Wall Street Journal, and later, Todd McCarthy and David Rooney, critics at THR.

Littleton started out at United Press International and went on to Broadcasting & Cable magazine before joining Variety and then THR. She just published "TV on Strike: Why Hollywood Went to War Over the Internet," the definitive account of the 2007-2008 Writers Guild of America strike, and also co-authored with Susanne Daniels "Season Finale: The Unexpected Rise and Fall of the WB Network and UPN."

Variety TV editor Wallenstein joined Variety in 2011 from THR, where he covered TV and tech for eight years. Wallenstein has contributed commentary for NPR's "All Things Considered" and has hosted TV Guide Channel's "Square Off." He has a master's degree in journalism from Columbia and has taught undergrad journalism courses at several universities.

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More: Media, New Media & Technology, Variety

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  • Karl | February 26, 2013 8:14 PMReply

    Nice job, Anne. This is one of the more measured articles I've read on this subject today. I had the pleasure to work with two of the three editors above, and you, at THR. I don't think anyone caught up in the layoffs of 2008-2009 succumbed - truth is stranger than fiction with those layoffs and usually not based on anything personal, although it sure feels like it at the time. I am glad for everyone involved and wish them the best. I think until a person has lived a daily print schedule for years, no once can really know the pressure and stamina required. Long live the trades, online outlets of substance and great writers! Glad we're all still kicking around.

  • Randy | February 26, 2013 1:29 PMReply

    Speaking of old times, Anne, I miss your work at Premiere magazine. Premiere had in-depth articles about film. Investigative reporting, such as the exposé on Arnold Schwarzenegger and his womanizing. Reading those articles, I felt like I was getting a truly intimate look at the process of movie making and really learned about those artists involved in the process. I used to read the magazine from cover to cover.

    Some things have not improved online. People don't seem to want that type of coverage anymore, and can't be bothered to focus on anything that takes more than 5 minutes to read (i.e., blogs).

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